NDIS move could hurt younger dementia patients

Dementia: man stares sadly out window

Alzheimer’s Australia has urged the Federal Government to expand and continue investment in dementia-specific care and support services such as the Younger Onset Dementia Key Worker Program (YODKWP).

“There is overwhelming evidence suggesting that the unique needs of people with dementia, particularly people with younger onset dementia, cannot be supported through mainstream health and care services,” says Alzheimer’s Australia CEO Carol Bennett.

“The proposed transition of the YODKWP into the NDIS may mean that people with younger onset dementia and their families will not be able to get the services they need.

“People with younger onset dementia may be forced to seek access to intensive and expensive residential care services earlier, creating significant cost to the Government,” she says.

The YODKWP, announced in 2013, was part of a $23.6 million investment over five years by the Australian Government to improve support for people with younger onset dementia.

“The YODKWP is a testament to the positive outcomes that dementia-specific care can provide to people with dementia under the age of 65,” Bennett says.

“It provides essential supports to people with younger onset dementia and their families and has worked to build capacity in the community sector to this group of consumers.

“The NDIS system is ill-equipped to deal with the unique needs of people with dementia, but can work in alignment with programs such as the YODKWP to ensure access to targeted supports and services for people with younger onset dementia.”

Alzheimer’s Australia has provided its recommendations to Government in a submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Community Affairs on the adequacy of existing residential care arrangements available for young people with severe physical, mental or intellectual disabilities in Australia.

It is estimated that there are now more than 25,000 Australians living with younger onset dementia. Without a medical breakthrough, this figure is set to increase to 36,800 by 2050.

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